When you think of Alaska, what comes to mind?
For me, it’s icebergs, bears, and mountains. It’s glaciers, glaciers, and more glaciers. It’s moose, salmon, and whales. It’s the northern lights and the aurora borealis. It’s… well… it’s a lot of things!
Ideally, I would have taken 3 weeks away from Real Life to see all the sights. But I feared that if I were to wait until I have a convenient 3 weeks … it might never happen. So I decided to instead plan and take 3 days to see the highlights. Below is my 3 day Alaska itinerary.
Day 0: Fly into Anchorage
What a delightful treat to find that United Airlines offers a seasonal direct flight from New York to Anchorage! Our flight departed Newark (ugh) at 3:44pm and, thanks to the generous time difference, we landed in Anchorage around 7:28pm … only to find that Alaska is the one state in the US where Mint Mobile doesn’t have a contract.
Cell phone-less, we manage to grab a taxi to the Sheraton Anchorage. Below, me (uncharacteristically donning a flannel … when in Rome) in front of the window looking out over Anchorage:
Thankfully, our good friend (former New Yorker) Sharif was at the ready, and whisked us away to Moose Tooth where we downed Alaska brews and devoured several pizzas. Delicious.
Day 1: Anchorage to Talkeetna
Awakened by a 6:37am sunrise (as well as the inevitable jet lag), we hustled to the Anchorage Depot to make our 8:20am train out of Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad provided us with a delicious breakfast (served in the dining room). At 11:05am, we arrived in Talkeetna: the land of my birth and first four years of my life!
Day 2: A Day in Talkeetna
Talkeetna, Alaska is a small town located in the Susitna Valley. It was named for the Talkeetna River that flows through the town. The town is located between Denali and Anchorage, making it a convenient stopover for tourists heading to Denali National Park.
The town has a population of around 900 and is known for its wide variety of outdoor activities. There are many hiking and biking trails in the area, including one that leads up to Mount McKinley (Denali). There are also many outfitters that offer river rafting trips down the Susitna River which runs through Talkeetna.
We opted to stay at the picturesque Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge.
The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is a beautiful hotel located in the heart of Alaska’s Denali National Park.
The hotel is spectacularly situated on the banks of the Susitna River, and surrounded by mountains and pristine wilderness. The lodge offers panoramic views of Denali—the tallest mountain in North America.
The lodge offers comfortable accommodations with all the amenities you would expect from a five-star accommodation. All rooms are equipped with a fireplace, microwave and refrigerator, as well as a cable TV with DVD player. A continental breakfast is included in your room rate.
Day 3: Talkeetna to Fairbanks
After a restful night at the Lodge, we boarded the Alaska Railroad at 11:20am.
The ride on the Alaskan Railroad from Talkeetna to Fairbanks is like a trip through time. You’ll start off on an old-fashioned train track—but that doesn’t mean it’s not comfortable! You can relax in one of our first class cabins and enjoy amenities like a private bathroom, a dining car with delicious meals made by local chefs, and even a bar car where you can get some drinks.
As you make your way through the Alaskan wilderness, you’ll see some of the most incredible scenery in all of North America. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a bear or two!
The trip takes about 6 hours total—but if you’re looking for something more exciting than just sitting in one place for 6 hours straight? Why not try riding from Talkeetna to Fairbanks on one of our special “Ride Around” trips? On those trips, your train will stop at multiple locations so that everyone can get off and explore local attractions before heading back towards town.
At 8pm, we arrived in Fairbanks and hopped in a quick taxi to the Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks.
The Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks is a modern hotel in the heart of Alaska’s capital city, offering a prime location that’s just minutes from area attractions. The Fairbanks hotel features 156 newly renovated guest rooms, including two-room suites with whirlpool tubs, as well as an indoor pool and hot tub, fitness center and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the building.
Though we were hoping to get a glimpse of Aurora, unfortunately … no dice. But fear not, Alaska .. we’ll be back.
Day 4: Departure
Waking up at 4am (in hopes on spying some dancing northern lights) ended up convenient, since we had to be at the airport for a 6am flight out of Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines direct to Fairbanks. Until next time, Alaska!